Find Your Fit

Who Hires Natural Resource Professionals?

You can find conservation jobs at all levels of government, non-profit organizations, for-profit businesses, and higher education institutions. Entrepreneurship is rapidly growing in the natural resource field by individuals identifying a need and creating a product or service to address it. This Guide highlights jobs in the conservation field and “green” jobs industries in Maryland. Partners include federal, state, and local agencies and non-profit organizations. Examples included here focus mostly on partners represented through the Maryland Project Green Classrooms Initiative and Chesapeake Bay Program. There are many others in this vast field in Maryland and the Chesapeake Watershed.

There are a number of federal agencies and national organizations that are based in the Washington, D.C. area but whose reach extends across the country and internationally. Many groups also have offices within Maryland. Because D.C. is adjacent to Maryland, many state residents work there. Examples include:

  • National Park Service
  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
  • Environmental Protection Agency
  • North American Association of Environmental Education
  • National Wildlife Federation
  • The Nature Conservancy
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Forest Service
  • Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS)
  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
  • World Wildlife Fund
  • Conservation International

At the next level, state government and state-wide organizations focus their attention on Maryland, including natural resources management, parks and recreation, agriculture, and education.

  • Maryland Department of Natural Resources
  • Maryland Department of the Environment
  • Maryland Department of Transportation
  • Maryland Department of Agriculture
  • Maryland Agricultural Education Foundation
  • Maryland State Department of Education
  • Maryland Association for Environmental and Outdoor Education
  • Maryland Recreation and Parks Association
  • Maryland Environmental Trust
  • Tree Care Industry Association
  • Maryland Arborist Association Inc

Each county and many incorporated cities serve at the local level, tailoring their work to the specific needs of their communities. Some examples include:

  • County or city departments of the environment or health
  • County or city parks and recreation departments
  • County soil conservation districts (through the state Department of Agriculture)
  • School district environmental education center such as Anne Arundel County Public School’s Arlington Echo Outdoor Environmental Center
  • Local parks department, such as Brookside Gardens, Montgomery Parks
  • Smith Environmental Center, Montgomery County Public Schools
  • Riverkeepers

Many non-profit organizations provide a wide range of programs and services, from serving community-specific audiences to providing unique educational programs, conserving natural resources, and providing grants, partnership and technical assistance to support local, regional, statewide and national initiatives. Some of the many examples include:

  • Chesapeake Bay Trust
  • Chesapeake Bay Foundation
  • Chesapeake Conservation Landscaping Council
  • Howard Ecoworks
  • Minorities in Agriculture and Natural Resources
  • Riverkeepers
  • Audubon Maryland-DC, Pickering Creek Audubon Center
  • Chesapeake Conservancy
  • National Aquarium
  • Alice Ferguson Foundation
  • Baltimore Tree Trust
  • Bluewater Baltimore
  • Civic Works’ Baltimore Center for Green Careers
  • Center for Watershed Protection
  • ShoreRivers

Types of Positions: Navigating the Career Path

A variety of opportunities exist to contribute to the field of natural resources and to growing your personal and professional experience. Some positions are unpaid while others are paid. They also vary by time commitment, skill, and education requirements. Generally, these types of positions correspond to the order in which your career may progress – from getting your foot in the door as a volunteer to a permanent, full-time position from which you eventually retire. Although you may not hold a position at each of these levels throughout your career, typically natural resource professionals begin with a volunteer or internship experience then progress to a seasonal or temporary job and finally achieve a full-time permanent job. Below are the different types of positions that you will likely see in your job search and as you progress in your career:

  • Volunteer – this is unpaid work, which supports the organization but also may provide an introduction to the field, valuable experience, networking opportunities, or social interaction. Volunteer opportunities may be on-going assignments or one-time, like a special event or massive planting project. Some volunteer experiences may be counted toward the number of years required to qualify for paid positions. Volunteer positions are both an opportunity to gain experience to build up your resume and a stage to showcase your knowledge and skills to prospective employers or references for future applications.​
  • Service-Learning – service-learning supports middle and high school graduation requirements for volunteer hours. For example, a class may participate in a service-learning project where they remove invasive species from the edge of a pond.
  • Job Shadowing – some agencies or organizations allow youth to follow a professional throughout their day on the job. A job shadow experience could last just a few hours or several weeks. This is a great way to see first-hand what a professional in a career you are interested in does on a daily basis.
  • Internships – internships yield more job experience and professional growth through mentorship and training. Some internship opportunities require a certain education level or experience and can be competitive. Paid internships typically have more requirements than unpaid internships although both can help teach important on-the-job skills and help build relationships. Some internships may count for college credit.
  • Apprenticeship – registered apprenticeships are jobs where workers “earn and learn.” While working on the job, employees receive one-on-one full-time training from a skilled craftsperson as well as related classroom instruction. An apprentice is “sponsored” by an employer or association and is paid according to a progressive pay scale.
  • Seasonal – seasonal positions are jobs that are only needed during certain months of the year. For example, a person may work in a seasonal position counting birds, which only migrate through an area during a particular time of year. Seasonal positions can vary from just several weeks to many months but always are less than a year. Seasonal positions may be full-time or part-time.
  • Temporary – when an organization or agency has an employment need but does not believe that need is long-term it may hire a temporary employee. Temporary positions may last several months but often do not go beyond one year. Generally, temporary employees do not receive the same amount of benefits that term or permanent employees receive. Temporary positions may be either full-time or part-time.
  • Term/Contracted – term employees are those hired for one-to-four years. Usually, term employees are hired for specific project work, in times of uncertain funding or in extraordinary workload circumstances. Many term positions may be renewed for another term but are not guaranteed like permanent positions. Term positions may be full-time or part-time and generally carry full benefits for the employee. Benefits for contracted positions vary among employers and may be less than those offered for permanent positions.
  • Part-Time – part-time positions are those that require a time commitment of fewer than 40 hours a week. Some part-time positions are 30 hours a week while others may be only 5 hours a week. A person may find a part-time seasonal, temporary, or permanent position.
  • Full-Time – typically full-time jobs are those that require 40 or more hours a week. A person may find a full-time seasonal, full-time temporary, or full-time permanent position.
  • Permanent – permanent positions are those where you expect your job to be supported by the agency or organization long into the future.
  • Fellowship – a fellowship helps a person already in the field enhance their professional development, usually through the completion of a specific project or academic research.


Navigating career paths can be a daunting task. It can be beneficial to seek out a mentor or mentorship programs at your institutions and outside facilities for guidance and advice. There can be different levels to mentoring depending on the needs of the students and program orientation. Certain organizations have peer mentors that could be upperclassmen or graduates at your institutions that could aid in guidance in terms of course scheduling and internship selection. Other programs could potentially assign you to professional mentors, advisors, or professors that also guide you through your educational process and seek opportunities to prepare for your future. It is an important step to jump start your career development by locating mentorship programs and to initiate those relationships.

Here are somes resources to mentorship programs in Maryland:

  1. MENTOR Maryland-DC
  2. Meyerhoff Scholars Program
  3. UMB CURE Scholars Program
  4. Community Engagement and Restoration Mentorship Program
  5. YH2O Mentoring Program
  6. Choose Clean Water Coalition's Young Professionals of Color Program
  7. ACE Mentor Program - Baltimore Chapter